For various reasons, the women’s question has become an object of criticism against Islam. Even some Muslim ulamo have found that “the women’s question has become a poisonous knife stabbed into the heart of Islamic society”. Many books, articles, sermons and lectures have been written on the subject of the rights of women in Islam.
Of course, we cannot discuss this topic within the scope of this book. Moreover, Islam is not obligated to answer for an unpleasant situation that arises from not following its teachings. Most importantly, Islam does not need to be protected by anyone, except that people who understand something should help people who do not understand something. This issue is briefly discussed in the article “Women and Equality”. And now, from the context of this chapter, it is not superfluous to explain some other issues on this topic.
Before the Qur’an existed, women were not only condemned to have their rights trampled upon, but they were deprived of their human dignity altogether. In those days, for example, in the country where Islam first spread, the family in which a girl was born was in mourning and then some of these girls were buried alive, which was considered a disgrace to the honour and dignity of the family and a cause of poverty.
The Qur’an strongly condemns and forbids this superstition. Muslim families began to rejoice more over the birth of a girl than a boy. Those who raised daughters were promised more worldly and afterworldly benefits than those who raised sons.
It is narrated from Abu Hurairah radiyallahu anhu:
“The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
“Whoever has three daughters and endures their whims, hardships and difficulties, Allah introduces him to Paradise because of His mercy towards them.
And the man said:
– And if there are two (daughters), O Prophet of Allah?
Said: And if two (daughters).
And the (other) man said:
– Even if one, O Messenger of Allah?
Said: Even if one.”
The upbringing and education of daughters and all that is necessary for their health, growth and education is a duty that rests on the shoulders of the father. It is only when his daughter marries that the father is relieved of this duty, for it now passes to his daughter’s husband. The care of a woman without a father or husband would be entrusted to her brothers or their legal successors. In general, Islam does not allow a woman to be left without a guardian. The care of the daughter is the responsibility of the father, that of the sisters is the responsibility of the brothers, that of the mother is the responsibility of the sons, etc.
Islam has given the woman the right to education and cultural upliftment by transferring this responsibility to the man. We all know that Islam has given men and women the same right to claim knowledge, and it has promised paradise to the man who brings up and educates his daughters or sisters. But perhaps not everyone knows that this also applies to slaves.
It is transmitted from Abu Musa Ash’ari radiyallahu anhu:
“The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
“Someone who had a female slave and then brought her up and gave her a good education and then set her free and married her, then he is rewarded twice.”
It seems that the man who raised, cared for and educated a slave girl is equal to the man who freed her.
Muslim women of the first generations of Islam, who were not satisfied with the knowledge they received from their husbands and other caregivers enlightened by the open lessons and sermons of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, requested that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam preach separately for women, whereupon the Prophet immediately granted their request.
A woman not only has the right to be educated, receive lessons, lectures and sermons, but she also has the right to teach, lecture and engage in other scholarly activities.
Everyone is aware of the achievements of Muslim women in various fields of science, education and culture. In order not to be unsubstantiated, let us give examples.
It is narrated from Shifa binti Abdullah al-Adawiya radiyallahu anha:
“The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam came to me and I was with Hafsa radiyallahu anha, and he said to me: ‘Will you teach her the prayer against namila (skin disease) as you taught her to write?’
Abu Dawud transmitted.
The representative of the learned women, the Mother of the Faithful Aisha radiyallahu anhum, ranks sixth among all the contemporaries of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam according to the number of hadiths transmitted. The great companions radiyallahu anhum turned to the Mother of the Faithful Aisha radiyallahu anha for advice in difficult cases when they could not solve a difficult matter themselves. This was an unprecedented event on a world scale at that time.
A Muslim woman had a prominent place in society, politics and Shariah. The mighty Caliph, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, and Almighty Allah Himself listened to and accepted the believing thoughts and truthful speech of a Muslim woman.
The great Caliph Umar ibn Khattab, known to the world as Umar the Righteous, once stated that the amount of mahr (the obligatory gratuitous material gift given by the groom to the bride on marriage) was quite exaggerated. To clarify this, he preached a sermon in which he said, among other things, “Listen to this! Do not exaggerate the height of women’s mahr. The most venerable among you in this world and the most God-fearing before Allah is the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. But none of his wives was given by the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam Mahr more than 12 uqiyah (unit of currency) and his daughters were not given more Mahr than that.”
Then one of the women came out of the crowd and said, “O Umar! Allah says, even if you give one of the women mahr without measure (kintar), and you forbid us?”
The Caliph, whose sermon was so rudely and abruptly interrupted, immediately realised his mistake and publicly admitted it, saying, “The woman has told the truth, Umar has erred.” It is due to the courage of this woman that to this day no one has dared to limit the size of a woman’s mahr. This can only happen in a society where women are revered.
When the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam set out from Medina in the sixth year of the Hijrah accompanied by one thousand four hundred companions, the Meccans (then polytheists) blocked their way in an area called Hudaybiya.
The confrontation ended in a truce, after which the Muslims were to return without visiting the Ka’bah. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam announced this to his Companions, whereupon he ordered them to slaughter the cattle to be sacrificed and to cut their hair. But the companions were extremely displeased; they did not even move. The Prophet repeated his decision three times, but not a single person would obey.
The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam entered the tent full of grief, went to his wife Ummu Salama radiyallahu anha and told her what had happened, expressing his deep concern that the past Ummahs were ruined for disobeying their prophets.
And then Ummu Salamah radiyallahu anha gave the Prophet advice that no wise vizier could have given:
“O Messenger of Allah, do you want them to obey you? Go out to them, do not say a word and perform the sacrificial ritual quietly. Then call your barber to cut your hair.”
The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam did exactly what Umma Salama radiyallahu anha said. The companions who saw this also rushed to perform the sacrificial rite and shave their heads. Thus, the Muslim Ummah was saved from destruction thanks to the ingenuity of a Muslim woman.
Let us now consider how Allah Almighty heard the request of a Muslim woman and fulfilled it.
Before Islam, there was a pagan rite of rejection of wives, zihar, by which a man equated his wife with his mother, sister or any other woman, after which he had no right to marry her. His wife became equal to his mother.
One day, a man named Aws ibn Samit, in the midst of a fit of rage, declared zihar to his wife named Hawla binti Salaba. According to the rules in force at the time, this was already considered a final decree of divorce, separating husband and wife for good. Later, when he came to his senses, he began to regret what he had done and told his wife: “I guess you are like a mother to me now.” And Khawla said, “By Allah, this is not a talaq (divorce),” whereupon she borrowed her neighbour’s dress and went to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam to settle the matter. She approached him and said:
“O Messenger of the Lord! My husband married me when I was beautiful and spiritually brilliant. Now that I have given him my youth, he has rejected me at my old age using all my wealth and mental faculties. But he regrets it. In this situation, is there not a way out for our further life together?”
– ‘You have been forbidden to him,’ said the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam.
– ‘I swear by the One who sent down the Qur’an to you, he has not uttered the word talaq (divorce). He is the father of my children and my beloved husband. – She exclaimed.
– You have become forbidden for him,” repeated the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
– I turn from my distress and loneliness to Allah Himself, I have lived with my husband for many years and had children by him,” she said.
– ‘You have become forbidden for him,’ the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam repeated, adding. – ‘No command has come upon you.
Hawla binti Sa’laba continued to argue with the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam: He reiterated that she had been forbidden to her husband, and Hawla replied, “About my difficult, lonely situation, I will pray to the Lord Himself. Thereupon Hawla said binti Sa’laba:
– For I have little children, with me they would starve, and with him they would perish! – And turning her eyes to heaven, she pleaded:
“O Lord, I beseech Thee, alone! O Lord! Send down and put into the Prophet’s mouth the ayats that will relieve my distress!”
Suddenly the Prophet was mysteriously silent. A state usually occurring at the moments of recitation of the ayats of the Qur’an arose. After a few moments, he raised his head and said:
– Allah Almighty has sent down ayats upon you and upon your husband, and he recited ayats which read:
“Verily Allah has heard the words of her who quarrelled with you about her husband and complained to Allah, and Allah hears your quarrel; verily Allah is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” (‘Mujadilah’, 1).
In these ayats, the ritual of zihar was abolished, and husbands who disowned their wives through zihar (by comparing them to their own mothers) were instructed to atone for this sin with “kaffarat”. For 14 centuries, these hadiths have been recited and followed as Shariah laws. And there is no doubt that it will remain so until the Day of Judgement. Allah heard the supplications of a simple woman and then sent down the ayats of the Qur’an that fulfilled her demands. Is this not the highest honour and respect for the female race? In what social order, in what doctrine is there such a thing? Contemporaries greatly appreciated and respected Hawla binti Salaba.
The story goes that a certain old woman began to instruct the Caliph Umar ibn Khattab while he was surrounded by a group of people and stopped him for a long time:
“O Umar,” she said, “only recently you were called Umarchik. When you grew up, people started calling you ‘O Umar’; now they call you ‘O Emir (the Lord) of the believers! Fear Allah, O Umar! He who fears death fears to live his life in vain. He who believes in the reckoning due on the Day of Judgement fears the chastisement that awaits him.” She spoke at length to Umar.
Khalif Umar had no choice but to listen to her in silence. His companions who were watching it closely asked in amazement, “O Lord of the believers, is this old woman worth such attention? How long are you going to listen to this old woman?” “I am willing to listen to her from early morning till late evening, being distracted only by the obligatory namaz,” replied Umar. – Don’t you know who she is? – After all, she is hawla binti salaaba. Her words are heard by Allah in the seventh heaven. How can Umar not listen to her when she has been heard by the Lord of all worlds Himself!”
Yes, only in Islam can a woman appear to stop in the street and admonish the world-famous great Caliph, the Lord of all believers, at whose mention the mighty of this world trembled.
Islam adheres to respect for women and creates all the necessary conditions for the beautiful half of humanity to preserve their beauty and femininity, to fulfil their duties before humanity, before the motherland, before society and before religion.
Islam did not oblige women to perform heavy, arduous tasks that only men can perform, but it did place some purely feminine duties on an equal footing with those of men and promised them the same blessings as men. For example, mothers’ labour struggles were equated with men’s jihad against enemies. Thanks to Muslim women defending their natural rights, all this is stated in the mouth of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
A hadith transmitted by Imam Bayhaqi and Imam Ibn Asokir states, “Asma binti Yazeed al-Ansariya radiyallahu anha came to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I am a messenger from the community of women who have sent me. They say my words, they are of the same opinion as I am: ‘Verily, Allah has sent you a prophet for men and women.’ We have believed you and followed you. We women have lingered in our homes, entangled in domestic cares. We are the objects of men’s desire, we bear your children. Men have the advantage of gathering in congregations and performing the prayer for the dead. When they go off to fight for the faith, we guard their property, raise their children, so are we rewarded as much as they are?
Then the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam turned to his companions and asked:
– Have you ever heard a woman ask a better question about religion than this?
– No, Messenger of Allah! – They replied.
– O ‘Asma! – Then the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said. – “Go back and tell the women who sent you that verily every one of you who treats her husband well and wants him to be pleased with her and strives to please him is equal in merit to the best of men.
Asma rejoiced immensely at what the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam had said and returned repeating incessantly, “Laa ilaha illallah (there is no deity but Allah)”.
From the perspective of Islam, it is better for women to take care of their children, raise the next generation properly and strengthen the family than to earn money outside the home, outside the family nucleus, especially through hard, undignified work, such as military service or asphalting.
According to the laws of Islamic Sharia, a Muslim woman has the right to give political asylum to others.
Thus, on the opening day of Mecca, Ummu Hani binti Abu Talib took an enemy, a polytheist, under her protection by granting him asylum. When her brother Ali ibn Abu Talib came to know this, he rushed to kill this enemy. Then Ummu Hani came to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam and narrated his story. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
“O Ummu Hani! Indeed, we have taken under our protection the one whom you have taken under your protection. And we have secured the one whom you have secured.”
Abu Dawud transmitted.
Before Islam, a woman was completely disinherited. After the death of her husband, she herself passed as an heir into the hands of one of his relatives. The latter would either marry her or give her to another as a wife and receive the mahr himself in return. Islam has abolished these cruel customs and declared the woman a legitimate, full heir.
Allah says in Surah Nisa:
“Give to men a share of what parents and relatives have left. And to women a share of what parents and relatives have left; of what is little or much is the prescribed share” (ayat 7).
The Qur’an gives women the right to perform bay’at to the head of state on an equal footing with men. This is a kind of analogy to the right to vote. Everyone knows that this is an extremely important political right.
Allah says in Surah Mumtahana:
“O Prophet! If believing women come to you to perform Bay’at with you, that they do not associate anything with Allaah, or steal, or commit adultery, or kill their children, or backbite between their hands or feet, or disobey you in matters you approve of, then accept their Bay’at and ask Allaah to forgive them. Verily, Allaah is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Ayat 12).
The word Bay’at is used in Arabic and means “to buy and sell”, “to make a deal”. In Shariah, the word Bay’at refers to a promise in submission to the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam. It is called bay’at precisely because it is as if one is “buying” a reward (savab) from the Almighty in exchange for the promise of submission. In the Islamic state system, the term means the conclusion of a contract between a citizen and a head of state. It is somewhat comparable to modern elections. In the bay’at, citizens shake hands with the emir or ruler and enter into a contract in which they agree to obey him if the ruler observes and implements Allah’s sharia. The emir or ruler also undertakes to perform his official duties according to the Shariah.
Now a few words about the work of women. Let us first ask the question, what do people, whether men or women, work for? The answer is, of course, simple, to provide for the family, to ensure a normal life. Is it then even necessary for a woman to work, to leave her home and children, her family, to do hard, undignified work when she is already adequately provided for? Some may object, “Shouldn’t a woman contribute to the development of society through her work?” We reply with a counter-question, “Who is more useful to society: a woman who works all day in the field, poisoning herself with various chemicals in the cotton field and feeding her child with milk containing pesticides, or a woman who leaves the hard work to her husband, gives her children a dignified education, is so needed by society and strengthens the family?”
But at the same time, Islam reminds us that when the need arises, if men are not sufficient for the work, women can be used in both labour and warfare.
Since in Islam it is a man’s duty to take care of a woman, respect her and provide her with everything she needs from birth to the end of her life, all hard work that requires physical strength and endurance is also placed on the shoulders of the man.
After all this, only one reason remains for women to work without objective necessity. This is pleasure pursued under the guise of work, which cannot take place within the family because of its evil nature.
Everyone knows that Islam strictly forbids any adultery. So it is probably better for the women themselves to entertain themselves at home when they are not working than when they are at work. It is worth reiterating that Islam does not forbid a woman from working and earning money, but that this matter is regulated in the interest of the woman herself, her family and society as a whole.
The upbringing and education of children is considered the responsibility of women. The provision of medical services to women is also seen as a woman’s business.
The famous Hanafi faqih of the past Kamaliddin ibn al-Humam said: “If a woman has a profession that is fardom-kifaya, which refers only to women, her husband has no right to deny her work.
It is also permissible for a wife to help her husband in the business. In urgent cases, when the family needs it, a woman is allowed to do a permissible type of work. Some ulema said that women with rare skills that are of great benefit to society are encouraged to engage in work for the benefit of society.
In other cases, women should not be forced to work. No one has the right to rush a woman and use her as cheap labour. No one should have the right to drive women to the fields early in the morning and make them work late into the night. No one has the right to force women to do unbearable work that destroys women’s nature, femininity and maternal tenderness.
From the book “Iyman – Islam – Qur’an”. Sheikh Muhammad Sadiq Muhammad Yusuf
Translated by Turkestan Travel from Islom.Uz